How to Win a Horse Race

During a horse race, horses run around a designated course, jumping every hurdle (if present) to the finish line. The winner of the race is awarded a specified amount of money. The first, second and third place finishers may also receive awards. Horse racing is a popular spectator sport and has its roots in the history of Ireland.

Many people view the sport as romantic and enticing, while others believe it to be cruel to animals and unnecessary. Activists such as Patrick Battuello, who runs the organization Horseracing Wrongs, criticize horse racing for its use of drugs, whipped horses and gruesome breakdowns. Many of the horses who break down or are injured are killed, with PETA estimating that ten thousand American thoroughbreds die each year in race-related injuries.

Horses must be bred and trained to become competitive in order to win a race. The pedigree of the horse is important, as it determines its potential to perform. The breeder must make sure that the horse possesses the desired qualities, such as speed, endurance and intelligence. The horse’s physical condition, such as its height and build, is also a consideration.

In order to qualify for a race, the horse must be rated. A jockey must then ride the horse and keep it within certain time limits for the duration of the race. Afterwards, the horse must be tested for performance-enhancing drugs. The horse must pass a urine test and a blood test.

A horse that bleeds from its lungs during a race is called a “bleeder.” This bleeding can be fatal, so most horses receive a drug called Lasix. The drug, which is noted on the racing form with a boldface L, prevents pulmonary bleeding by acting as a diuretic. The side effect of this is that the horse unloads epic amounts of urine during a race–20 or 30 pounds worth.

To compete at the highest level, a horse must run in a “conditions race.” These are races that offer the largest purses. Horses are assigned a weight to carry, with allowances granted to younger horses and females running against males. The lighter the horse carries, the better it will likely perform.

Other factors that affect a horse’s performance are its track, sex, race distance and the trainer. A heavy track, for example, will slow a horse down, as will a jockey that insists on using his hands instead of the whip.